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According to a study from S. Nijalingappa Medical College, breathing yoga lowers blood pressure naturally in as little as two weeks of regular practice, even for beginners.
What is Breathing Yoga?
Breathing yoga, known as pranayama (prah-nah-yah-mah) in the yoga world, is a kind of meditation. In a breathing yoga class, you don’t perform yoga poses. Instead, you sit in a comfortable seated position, or laying down, and breathe as instructed.
Pranayama is typically easier to do than silent meditation because you can occupy your mind by focusing on your breath. When you meditate you must clear your mind of thoughts, which is difficult for beginners.
However, unlike traditional meditation, where you stay in the same seated position for an extended period of time, when you do pranayama you have opportunites between the different breathing exercises to stretch your legs and switch seated positions.
It’s also common for a yoga teacher to teach pranayama after asana practice, as prescribed by Satyananda Saraswati in his book Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha.
Who Can Do Pranayama?
In this breathing yoga study published in the journal Heart Views, researchers sought to find out if regularly practicing pranayama lowers blood pressure for healthy yoga beginners.
Each of the 50 healthy participants were:
- men and women between the ages of 20 and 60
- yoga beginners
- had never done pranayama before
- showed enthusiasm about learning pranayama
- did not do any additional physical exercise
*If you are a yoga beginner but already have high blood pressure, or other health condition, contact your health care professional before starting a breathing yoga program.
How Often Should I Do Pranayama?
If you want to try to lower your blood pressure naturally with breathing yoga, try following the pranayama program in the study. The exact breathing yoga exercises in the order performed are listed below.
The participants attended pranayama class for 15 consecutive days from 6 to 8 a.m. If you’re thinking, “Wow! Two hours!” keep in mind only 45 minutes of the class was dedicated to breathing yoga.
The breathing yoga class consisted of six components, with 45 minutes dedicated to the breathing yoga exercises, in the following order:
- 10 minutes of prayer
- 45 minutes of breathing yoga
- A 5-minute break
- A 30-minute lecture on health
- 20 minutes of meditation
- 10 minutes of prayer
Breathing Yoga Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
The breathing yoga series in this study consisted of eight pranayama exercises appropriate for yoga beginners, in this order:
- Abdominal Breathing, known in Hindi as Vibhagiya Pranayama
- Thoracic Breathing, known in Hindi as Madhyama Vibhagiya Pranayama
- Clavicular Breathing, known in Hindi as Aadya Vibhagiya Pranayama
- Full Yogic Breath, known in Hindi as Poorna Mudra Pranayama
- Alternate Nostril Breathing, known in Hindi as Nadishuddi Pranayama
- Cleansing Breaths, known in Hindi as Kapalabathi Kriya
- External Breathing, known in Hindi as Bahya Pranayama
- Cooling Breaths, known in Hindi as Sitali and Sitkari.
Three Cardiovascular Benefits of Pranayama
The results of this pranayama study show breathing yoga lowers blood pressure naturally, which improves your cardiovascular health. As published in Heart Views, the yoga program prescribed by S. Nijalingappa Medical College:
- Lowers blood pressure and pulse rates for healthy people in just 15 days
- Significantly lowers systolic blood pressure by about four points and diastolic blood pressure by about 3 points
- Significantly lowers resting pulse rates, about three fewer beats per minute
References for Breathing Yoga Series to Lower Blood Pressure
1. Heart Views; Effect of Short-Term Pranayama and Meditation on Cardiovascular Functions in Healthy Individuals; Roopa B. Ankad et al.; 2011